At the moment I am nursing a hangover. Not the mind numbing hangover induced by over consumption, but a physical one that can only be earned from 20 hours of traveling to the other side of the world.
As I write this, I am sitting in a tightly manicured garden (above) in New Delhi, India where the air is hanging thick with heat and moisture. There is a symphony of birds in the trees above and car horns are honking incessantly in the distance. Here I am once again, with the familiar humble feeling that I have much more to learn from this wonderful land and the magnificent people here than I could possibly teach.
I wish I could start this story by saying I have an extensive background in International Development and a deep understanding of the complex issues faced by charities in South East Asia and specifically Nepal. Surely a degree in something could be useful at this juncture. Sitting here with my swollen feet and my sandy eyes, I’ve come to realize that the only possible way to begin this story is to start by telling you about how I first met Ram Adhar Kapar.
Ram is the Chairperson for the Rural Community Development Service Council (RCDSC) based in Kathmandu, Nepal. The RCDSC is a civil society organization dedicated to the rights of excluded groups and communities in the Terai region.
I first met Ram while doing research for a trip to Jaipur, India in 2008. I was going there to speak about SOFII at the South Asian Fundraising Group Workshop. Ram and I quickly decided to meet in Jaipur and discuss some strategic organizational and funding issues for the RCDSC.
When I first sat down in person with Ram and he told me about the marginalized Dalit people and the way the RCSDC works to help them lead a sustainable life, with dignity and respect in the society I was deeply moved. Ram’s passion is intense – in fact it was contagious. I was also impressed with how very smart, patient and committed he is to strengthening the capacity of his organization and reducing their reliance on international aid. You can read more about the current situation in the Mahottari and Dhanusha districts here.
It must also also be said that Ram is the most determined man I have ever met. In spite of over two years of my protests and reminding him that, at the moment, I am not a full time consultant, Ram has convinced me to spend my holiday in Nepal visiting the people he works with and learning more about his country.
So, this year instead of going to the International Fundraising Conference, I’ll be learning about international fundraising in the trenches of Kathmandu. And for better or worse, instead of an academic degree, I’ll bring forward a deep curiosity about the issues and the local people. I also hope to share my experience of fundraising in the trenches of Canada in a way that will be meaningful and helpful for fundraising in the trenches of Nepal.
Together, and with my travel companion and colleague Anna Walsh we will work on how to tell the story of the Nepalese Dalit people and the work of RCDSC in a way that compels people around the world to become engaged and make donations to help.
Please check back often to read our stories so that together we will learn more about the joys and challenges of fundraising in one of the poorest countries in the world.
Thank you for joining me for this adventure.
PS In fact tomorrow in Kathmandu will be the first time Anna and I meet beyond twitter. How we came to be traveling together will be a blog post in and of itself.